09/22/2011 02:19 EDT | Updated 11/21/2011 05:12 EST

Do You Need A Break From Technology?


If you have a moment, spare a thought for Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the co-CEOs and largest shareholders of Research In Motion, Ltd., also known as the company that brought you your beloved Blackberry. They've recently been downgraded from billionaire to millionaire status, a direct result of RIM's ever-declining profits against stiff competition from Apple Inc. and other top players in the market.

But as RIM falls in popularity and many wage a mass exodus to join the not-so-exclusive group of iPhone users, an important question is being raised: should we consider disconnecting ourselves from all devices?

Our gadgets are the at the centre of our livelihood these days. They keep us connected to the people in our lives, they keep us up-to-date on what's going on in the world, they remind us of our obligations and they help us pass the time when we're waiting in line or riding the train. They remind us to exercise, they entertain us, they play music to lull us to sleep and they capture precious moments on camera. What would we do without them?

Lots, as it turns out. These days, digital fasts are all the rage -- people are taking time away from their devices to de-stress, spend some quality time with the family and to catch up on their non-digital to-do list. Blocking out the many distractions that keep you on your toes at all times can be difficult, but it's so worth it -- for both your sanity and your health.

Need reasons to unplug? Here are just a few:

-- Recent studies suggest staring at a brightly-lit screen before going to bed -- which a reported 95 per cent of us do -- can affect the levels of the sleep hormone melatonin in our bodies, leading to sleep deprivation.

-- A 2005 study found cellphone addiction caused a major rise in stress in both the home and at work.

-- Furthermore, a New York Times article points the finger at laptops and touch screens as a major cause of aches and pains.

-- Surveys out of England show employees who are addicted to checking their email on their Blackberries end up working up to 10 extra days a year. Think about it -- you could have taken a nice week-long, all-inclusive vacation, but instead were checking emails that could probably have waited.

Disconnecting seems like a daunting, impossible feat, but it can be done. You might even like it! Because, at the end of the day, a phone call means more than an email or text message and a coffee date is more gratifying than a Facebook chat.